The Cross of Christ is what divides the world and the Kingdom of God. It separates life from death and determines the fate of those who will inherit eternal life in Christ Jesus.
The Cross of Christ is a place of death, where Sin, sins, ego, selfish desires, presuppositions and pre-understandings are put to death.
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain (John 12:24 NKJV).
The Cross of Christ is also a place of life, where those who believe will inherit the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal 2:20 NKJV).
1.0 CRUCIFIXION–A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE
Crucifixion entails nailing the arms of a person on a crossbeam and the legs on the attached vertical stake. The sight of a person hanging on a cross is very ugly and the pains are very excruciating in the intervening hours before death. In Roman times, crucifixion was the worst kind of punishment; and it was meant for the worst kind of criminals. Both inhumane and wicked, it is still one of the most cruel ways to kill a human being.
Knowing this, no one in his right mind would willingly allow himself to be crucified if there was a way out.
Yet, Jesus, the Son of God, allowed Himself to be crucified!
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Owner of the whole universes, without whom nothing that was made was ever made, willingly hung on a cross for 6 hours before giving up His Spirit.
Though He had the power to walk down from that cross, He neither complained nor made any attempt to free Himself.
The world hanged Him on a cross not because He committed a crime but for doing good. He had lived an exemplary and unparalleled life on earth; one that will forever be the talk of the ages. He healed the sick, cleansed lepers, raised the dead, and enunciated the principles and values of the Kingdom of God that were clearly at odds with a world steeped in evil. There had never been anyone like Him both before Him and after.
2.1 WHY DID THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ALLOW HIMSELF TO BE CRUCIFIED?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16 NKJV).
The Lord Jesus Christ died to make us sons and daughters of God.
Our Sin (the nature of sin) and sins (living a life of disobedience to God) nailed Him on that cross. As descendants of Adam and Eve, we all participated in His crucifixion because all human beings (born and unborn) have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
The sight of the One without any blemish, bruised and battered hanging on the cross, was one of indescribable ugliness; that indescribable ugliness is what sin actually looks like before God.
He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care (Isa 53:3 NLT).
Even though Roman soldiers nailed Christ on the cross, in reality they were nailing, on behalf of all humanity, Sin, sins, eternal death, all the handwriting and requirements against humanity and everything that offends in the heavens and earth. Human beings through the disobedience of Adam and Eve had brought sin and death into the world. Therefore, it was fitting that human beings would carry out the divine sentence of putting them to death.
As Christ gave up His Spirit, Sin, sins and eternal death, all the handwriting and requirements against humanity and everything that offends in the heavens and earth died.
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin (Rom 6:6 NLT).
2.2 A DRAMATIC ILLUSTRATION OF WHAT HAPPENED ON THE CROSS
The following is a dramatic illustration excerpted from my book, Countdown to Eternity.
There was consternation in the whole universe on this particular day. On earth, those disciples who had the courage to make it to Golgotha were dejected and confused. Those who had abandoned or denied Him the night before or who were unsure of what to believe after His arrest had stayed away.
The rowdy crowd jeered and shouted at the Man nailed to the cross between two thieves, “You who saved others but cannot save yourself, come down now and we will believe in you.”
Some in the crowd who had witnessed God’s miracles through the Hand of Him on the cross wanted to speak up but were afraid. However, others who had also been witnesses joined the raucous crowd to denounce Him.
Many in the crowd without knowing it had become willing tools in the hands of Satan and his demons. The gaping holes created by sin in their lives had opened the door for Satan and his demons to enter their hearts and possess them. Therefore, prodding them to rain abuses on the Just One, a Man who had done only good deeds during His short stay on earth, had been easy.
With their spiritual eyes closed because of sin, the Priests, Levites, Pharisees, Sadducees and the rest of the crowd could not see Satan and his demons jeering and mocking the One on the cross too.
Satan could not believe his good fortune: “How could the Word of God made flesh have allowed these dust beings to crucify Him?” he wondered to himself.
Something must have gone horribly wrong with God’s plan or why had God not attempted a rescue, which indeed was still possible but which would negate His announced plan to redeem these dust beings from eternal death through the Just One.
He and his cohorts had tried to analyze the prophetic utterances regarding man’s salvation without success. It did not make sense that Jesus Christ should die on the cross and they could not understand how His death could rescue man from eternal damnation.
They had assumed that Jesus would not die but would rather cheat death by walking down from the cross. However, with what he was seeing, Jesus was really going to die.
Jesus Christ, the Word of God, was dying before his eyes! In his mind, death had defeated the Word of God made flesh.
Satan and his demons held their collective breath, and waited.
In heaven, God’s angels watched in horror as the Roman soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross. They waited for the Father to command them to go to His rescue.
“It is impossible for the Son of God to die, after all God is eternal and can never die,” they reasoned.
They too had not understood the Scriptures.
Michael and God’s angels held their breath too, and waited.
For the three hours that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, hung on the cross, the whole of creation and eternity waited while the Father turned His face away from His Son.
At the end of the three hours, God’s angels and Satan’s demons saw something beyond their comprehension: sin-nature and all the sins human beings through the ages had committed or would commit, in the form of filth-filled galaxies, rushing headlong to the cross. This revolting massive behemoth’s aim was to crush the One hanging on it.
No human eye could have looked at it and lived. Fortunately, for man, only the spirit worlds and eternity beheld the very sickening spectacle representing the sins of the whole world.
Following the filth-filled galaxies of sin, eternal death, in the form of a huge void greater than a quasar, opened up to swallow Jesus.
And in that moment that would be etched forever in the annals of eternity, the Blood coming out of the Body of Jesus Christ expanded and filled the whole universe. Enveloping the approaching horrifying spectacle representing the sins of the whole world, the Blood of Jesus Christ crushed it, and wiped the big slate of filth-filled galaxies clean in a twinkle of an eye.
Contemporaneously, the Blood stopped the huge void of death in an instant, and laid a very beautiful bridge draped in the glorious Blood of Jesus across the whole expanse stretching from the earth to God’s throne.
Inscribed on the eternal bridge were the words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
God’s angels and Satan’s demons then saw the Blood of Jesus Christ course through all of God’s creation – eternity, quasars, galaxies, stars and planets – cleansing and making everything new. At that same time, the angels in heaven saw the Father turn to His Son on the cross with smiles.
The triumphant cry of Jesus, “It is finished, I have accomplished everything necessary for man’s redemption, destroyed sin-nature and eternal death, removed all the handwriting of requirements against man, built the eternal bridge and cleansed all eternity,” rang throughout the whole universe.
At that cry, all the galaxies, suns, worlds, planets, moons and angels stood still to honor the Son of God.
“Father into Your hands, I commend My Spirit,” came from the lips of Him who had conquered sin and death, and assured eternal redemption for all who would believe on the finished and empowering works on the cross.
As He gave up His Spirit, having sacrificed His Body, the most beautiful spectacle ever beheld in eternity began to unfold. The Blood of Jesus, which had now turned into a beautiful aroma and radiance, shot up to the throne of God through the beautiful eternal bridge. The same radiance permeated the universe and shone right through everything that God had created.
(I encourage you, dear reader, to visit our website and download, Countdown To Eternity, by Ikechi P. Ihejirika. It is free).
2.3 SALVATION IS BY EMBRACING THE CROSS OF CHRIST
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, whoever embraces the Cross of Christ (acknowledging Christ’s sacrifice, confessing Jesus Christ as Saviour (God in the flesh that took all our burdens, Sin, sins and death on His Body) and as Lord (the One who rose up for our justification and to whom we must now obey unconditionally), is saved.
And in making that total surrender (accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour), one is saying never again will I willingly embrace sin.
With that confession, one crosses over from a world that is dying into a Kingdom that is eternal, the Kingdom of God.
Salvation is not just a ‘mouth confession’; it is a ‘doing confession,’ which means not just purposing never again to sin but taking every step to avoid those things (relationships included) that draw one away from Christ Jesus.
As one faithfully follows in Christ’s steps, the Holy Spirit will continue to open the eyes of saint and she is able to see the ugliness of sin and to flee from it.
3.0 BREAD AND BUTTER CHRISTIANS
During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread. But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ ” (Matt 4:4 NLT).
Many 21st century Christians are like the Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years. Just like the children of Israel forgot that the Red Sea separated them from Egypt, many believers seem to have forgotten that the cross of Christ separates them from the world. Those who claim to have crossed from death (from a doomed world) to life (the eternal life in Christ Jesus) have their hearts still in the world just like the hearts of the Israelites were still in Egypt after they had crossed the Red Sea.
Just like the Israelites seethed and were dissatisfied with the quality of food and water during the wilderness journey, many believers are dissatisfied with their conditions. Their prayer requests are always about their desires (usually money, houses, cars and other luxuries). The Israelites despised the manna (bread) and quail from heaven and desired the luxuries and meat of Egypt. In like manner, many believers despise their status in the society and desire the luxuries and pleasures of the world.
Sadly, many believers have refused to learn from what happened to those Israelites whose hearts remained in Egypt even though they had crossed the Red Sea.
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted (1Cor 10:1-6 NKJV).
Many of us don’t seem to appreciate what it means to die on the cross with Christ. If truly we died with Him, then our hearts should have died also. And if our hearts truly died, and God gave us a new heart of faith (one of total dependence on Him), why still do we resurrect our dead hearts? If our hearts truly died on the cross, and we have new hearts given to us by God, our desires should be about the things of God–how we may please our Saviour and Lord and not on the things of the world.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4 NKJV).
Tragically, the hearts of many of believers are still in the world. Many see nothing wrong in making alliances (political, economic and religious) with unbelievers while some prefer to be in the company of unbelievers. We want to be like the ‘Joneses’–dress, dance and talk like them. The world holds such great attraction for so many; they want the crown but not the thorn.
Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? (2Cor 6:14-15 NLT)
Many of us have allowed strangers (general overseers, bishops, pastors, prophets, etc) to preach strange doctrines without challenging them with the truth. Yet, the Lord Jesus Christ called out the hypocritical Jewish religious leaders of his day. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, called them out too with the truth and paid the price with His life.
You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One– the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels” (Acts 7:51- 53 NLT).
What are we doing about the apostasy in our age? You and I are afraid to call out the hypocrites who preach strange doctrines in our churches. We hide under the phrase, ‘touch not my anointed’. Who said that those preaching strange doctrines and leading many away from the truth are God’s anointed?
Here is what the Scriptures tell us about these false leaders and teachers:
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed (Gal 1:8-9 NLT).
4.0 EMBRACING THE CROSS OF CHRIST MEANS FORSAKING ALL AND FOLLOWING HIM
The Cross of Christ is still the dividing line between the world and eternal life. It is the Red Sea; it is the parting of ways. If you are reading this and you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, please do so today. Tomorrow may be too late because the judgment for those who fail to do so has already been pronounced (John 3:18). Only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord have a fighting chance to inherit eternal life.
How does a believer make certain that she will inherit eternal life in Christ Jesus?
No doubt, many believers have at one time or the other asked themselves that question.
Answer: SIN NO MORE.
How is it possible for a human being, even a committed Christian, not to sin?
Answer: FORSAKE ALL AND FOLLOW JESUS ONLY
Most of the adults who crossed the Red Sea never entered the Promised Land. In the same way, many who have crossed over will not inherit eternal life.
For many are called, but few are chosen (Matt 22:14 NLT)
Having crossed over, a believer must never have a double mind. If your heart is still in the world, you have a double mind. Crossing over does not mean you will inherit eternal life. Crossing over, denying self, and being fully committed to the Lordship of Christ Jesus is what assures one of eternal life in Christ.
Though God is the One that has called us out of the world, and will choose those that will inherit eternal life in Christ from among those He has called, it is you and I that will determine whether or not He chooses us.
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever (1John 2:15-17 NLT).
Those who reject the world and its attractions and focus on the LORD who has purchased their lives with His Blood will surely inherit eternal life. They will always see the beacons that direct them to the narrow path. Only those who walk on the narrow pathway lit by the LORD for His faithful virgins will inherit eternal life.
But those who cross over and still love the world cannot see those beacons beckoning them to the narrow road. Distracted by the lure of the world and focussed on self rather than on the Christ Jesus, they mistake the broad road for the narrow one.
God has given us the road map. You and I have to either follow it and be with Him eternally or be cast away from His presence forever.
May the Lord God bless you all as you read and May you never lose your place in Him, in Jesus Name, I pray.
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